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FARO de Oriente

Two weeks out of every two months during the whole 2010 I work at FARO de Oriente, a culture center in Mexico DF. The project I develop here between 2009 and 2010 tries to bring open source tools in FARO’s everyday activities.

FARO (Spanish for lighthouse) stands for Fabrica de ARtes y Oficios, the English equivalent to Factory for Arts and Crafts. This center registers 1300 participants in alternative educational activities 6 days/week. FARO is located in the municipality of Iztapalapa, at the DF’s east side. The neighborhood counts with more than 3 million inhabitants, many of them in-land migrants, with little or no access to high education.

Calaca, a traditional paper skull made at Faro

The space here has been running for 10 years, June 2010 is the time when they celebrate their anniversary. It counts with three buildings and a fairly large open space surrounding it. The central building hosts the administration, the workshops for fashion design, printing fabrics, paper sculpture, the community lunchroom, the library,  the computer clubhouse, meeting rooms for the radio and TV teams, a small gym for the yoga and dance courses, and a daycare. There is a small building where the residents stay with a fully equipped kitchen, and bed space for up to 7 people. The last building includes the carpentry,  a storage space, and the metal workshop.

View of the wood workshop early in the morning

The whole place is ran co-financed by different sources: the municipality, the Spanish Culture Center in Mexico, the French Culture Center and the Intel’s Computer  Clubhouse Village program. On top of that, many smaller actors donate equipment to make things happen. E.g. Arduino donated 15 kits and I am working in creating yet another 15 kits in robotics for the kids at the Clubhouse to get introduced to digital electronics.

The main goal of my project here is  managing the transition of the space to the use of open source tools, creating documentation in Spanish, creating basic documentation of exercises to be used by kids in their self-learning process, streamline the process of producing printed materials (magazines) using open source software, and help promoting their work outside. Unlike the traditional research projects, I cannot count in having a whole team to document the process, and it is really hard to measure impact. However, I concentrate in getting things done, taking pictures, have a diary, and will look into the notes later on.